By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Out in Buffalo, the whole hood is out to get Rob Gronkowski.
That’s at least the message that Tre’Davious White passed along to former NFL safety Ryan Clark in the wake of Gronkowski’s late hit on an unsuspecting White late in Sunday’s game.
The hit resulted in the league coming down with a one-game suspension for Gronkowski, but according to a text message White sent to Clark (they both played at LSU, if you’re wondering about their connection), it seems as though all of the Bills will be eager to get in an extra shot or two when the Bills and Patriots meet again on Christmas Eve in Foxboro.
“He said the whole hood want ’em, you know what I mean? The whole hood want Gronk, for sure,” Clark said on The Russillo Show on ESPN Radio. “I mean, that’s the exact text: ‘The whole hood want ’em.'”
Ryen Russillo asked Clark to translate that message for anyone who might not follow.
“They want to put them hands on him,” Clark said of the Bills.
Clark then expressed his own disappointment that the Bills didn’t respond by physically hitting Gronkowski in some way after the hit was delivered.
“This is the thing: I texted him, I thought they should have jumped [Gronkowski]. That was my initial thought, that [White’s] teammates should have came to his defense,” Clark said. “And obviously you can’t just throw hands — well, they do throw hands now in the league — but you can’t just do that. But in some way, his teammates should have let Gronkowski know how dirty and how out of bounds that play was. So I was kind of disappointed in that.”
During his playing career, Clark dealt with his own struggles to slow down Gronkowski while staying within the rules. He was on the field for Pittsburgh when Gronkowski caught three touchdowns in a 2010 Patriots blowout victory in Pittsburgh, and he was also on the field when Gronkowski caught nine passes for 143 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 55-31 win over the Steelers in Foxboro in 2013. In the one game Clark’s Steelers won over Gronkowski and the Patriots, the tight ends till caught seven passes for 94 yards. So, there might be some residual frustration shining through in Clark’s comments.
Clark also shared his opinion that Gronkowski has been given a bit of a free pass from criticism for the hit.
“The same thing that allows him the big, jolly frat guy persona that he portrays that allows him to do some of the things in the offseason that are non-Patriot-like that we laugh at, is the same thing that now people are going to use to not vilify him or not judge him in the way that he should be judged for such a terrible decision that put somebody else’s career and livelihood in jeopardy,” Clark said.
That last point is wrong — Gronkowski’s been discussed and criticized on every sports show in the country this week, and the league did not let the actions slide when suspending him for a game and costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars — but the information from the text that came from White is at least something worth storing away for a few weeks.
When the Bills enter Gillette Stadium in three weeks, they could be 8-6 and still be in prime position to earn their first playoff berth since 1999. If that’s the case, there won’t be any room for Sean McDermott’s team to risk any personal fouls and/or ejections from a game they’ll need to win.
But the Bills might also enter that game with a 6-8 record, and they might be eliminated from postseason contention. If that’s the case, and if the Bills are privately discussing how badly they want to deliver some form of retribution on Gronkowski, then that’s sure to be an underlying storyline during the week of that game. And once the game begins, everyone will be watching closely to see what kind of physical treatment the Buffalo defense applies on Gronkowski.
The officials that week, either way, will be on high alert, but that likely won’t assuage any fears in New England, where fans have seen Gronkowski suffer major injuries to his back, knee, ankle, and forearm during his career. Every time he gets hit, most fans hold their breath until they see him pop back up to his feet.
Yet, Gronkowski didn’t care much to take Tre’Davious White’s health and wellness into consideration before delivering a professional wrestling elbow drop to the back of the rookie’s head with the full force of 265 pounds behind it.
So, as one might imagine, the situation remains unresolved at this juncture. But the seeds have been sown for possible revenge in Week 16.